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Willie Randolph

 

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Willie Randolph was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the seventh round of the June 6, 1972, free-agent draft. He started out with the Class A Gulf Coast League Pirates in 1972, appearing in 44 games and batting .317. The following year he was with the Charleston Pirates of the Class A Western Carolinas League, where he batted .280. By 1974 he was with the Thetford Mines (Quebec) Pirates of the Double-A Eastern League. He finished that season with a batting average of .254, an on-base percentage of .397, and a fielding percentage of .966. He played his final minor-league baseball in 1975, with the Charleston (West Virginia) Charlies of the Triple-A International League, batting .339 with a fielding percentage of .965. He was called up by the Pirates in July of that year, and made his major-league debut on July 29 at the age of 21. He appeared in 30 games for the Pirates in 1975, batting only .164 but posting an on-base percentage of .246. He played in two games against Cincinnati during the National League Championship Series, going hitless. Cincinnati won that series.

 

On December 11, 1975, the Pirates traded Randolph and pitchers Ken Brett and Dock Ellis to the New York Yankees for pitcher Doc Medich. Randolph was the Yankees’ starting second baseman in 1976, appearing in 125 games. He had a batting average of .267, drew 58 walks, and had an on-base percentage of .355. He would remain the Yankees’ starting second baseman through 13 seasons, until 1988.

 

During those years with the Yankees, Randolph was a consistent batter, especially with runners on base, a patient hitter who drew a lot of walks, and an excellent fielder. In 1976 his batting average was .267, his slugging percentage .328, his on-base percentage .356, and he had 37 stolen bases. He did not hit well during the ALCS or the World Series that year, but he was named to the American League All-Star Team and the Topps All-Star Rookie Team, and won the Yankees’ James P. Dawson Award, which is given to the best rookie at the end of spring training. In 1977 Randolph’s numbers improved, and he posted a batting average of .274, an on-base percentage of .347, and a slugging percentage of .387. He was once again named to the American League All-Star team, and set an All-Star Game record for most assists (six) by a second baseman in a nine-inning game. During the ALCS against the Kansas City Royals, he had five hits and 2 RBIs in 18 at-bats. In the World Series he had four hits and scored five runs as the Yankees defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers.

 

Randolph continued to play well in 1978, getting 139 hits and 36 stolen bases in 134 games. His batting average was .279, his on-base percentage .381, and his slugging percentage .357. In 1979 he appeared in a career-high number of games (153), and had 682 plate appearances and 574 at-bats, both career highs. He had 155 hits and had a career-high fielding percentage of .985. He was first in the American League in putouts at second base (355), assists (478), and double plays by a second baseman (128). In 1980, Randolph’s batting average was .294, his on-base percentage .427 (second in the American League), and his slugging percentage .407. He led the American League in bases on balls with 119. He scored 99 runs, the most in his career. In the ALCS against Kansas City, Randolph batted .385. He was named to the American League All-Star team and won the Silver Slugger award among second basemen.

 

Between 1982 and 1984 Randolph was a consistent player, with a batting average between .279 and .287, an on-base percentage between .361 and .377, and a slugging percentage between .348 and .349. In 1984 he had a career-high 162 hits, and led the league in double plays by a second baseman (112). His numbers remained in the same range in 1985, when he tied his career-high fielding percentage of .985. In a game against the Oakland A’s on September 5, 1985, Randolph had four hits, including two home runs, in four at-bats. In 1986 he had a batting average of .276, an on-base percentage of .393, and a slugging percentage of .346. He did, however, lead the league with a career-high 20 errors.

 

On November 12, 1986, Randolph became a free agent, and the following January he re-signed with the Yankees. In 1987 he had his best year as a Yankee, driving in a career-high 67 runs, scoring 96, and sporting a batting average of .305. His slugging percentage was the highest of his career, .414. He was once again named to the All-Star team. He played his last year with the Yankees in 1988, appearing in 110 games with a batting average of .230. His on-base and slugging percentages remained high, however, standing at .322 and .300 respectively.

 

At end of his career with the Yankees, he ranked among the team’s all-time leaders in games played (1,694), runs (1,027), hits (1,731) and stolen bases (251). He was also valuable to the team in other ways. According to T.J. Quinn, although Randolph was very quiet, he was a major key to motivating the team.

 

During his 18-year career with six different teams, he appeared in 2,202 games and had 2,210 hits (including 316 doubles and 54 home runs), with 687 RBIs, 1239 runs scored, and 271 stolen bases. His batting average was .276, his slugging percentage .351, and his on-base percentage .373. His fielding percentage was .979. Randolph never committed an error in a postseason game. Three times during his career with the Yankees he had four hits in four at-bats, and twice he drove in five runs in five at-bats. Once with the Yankees and once with the Dodgers, he had three doubles in four at-bats.

 

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Joe Adcock

 

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Joe Adcock smashed some of the longest home runs ever witnessed. Although measuring the distance home runs traveled has historically been an imprecise science, driven by myth and legend, Adcock belongs to a select few sluggers, among them Mickey Mantle, Frank Howard, and Willie Stargell, whose feats still inspire awe. As a vocal leader of the Braves during their halcyon days in Milwaukee, Adcock hit the first ball into the revamped center-field bleachers at the Polo Grounds and the first shot over the 83-foot-high grandstand onto the upper-deck roof in left-center field in Ebbets Field, and was the first right-hander to smash one over the 64-foot-high scoreboard in right-center field at Connie Mack Stadium. One of the most feared sluggers of the 1950s and early 1960s, Adcock became just the 23rd batter to slug 300 home runs and finished with 336 round-trippers in his injury-plagued career that was marred by years of platooning.

 

Adcock’s impressive debut as a 22-year-old first baseman for the Reds against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 23 (2-for-4 with a double) was followed by an embarrassing outing early in the game the next evening. “I’m sitting on the bench … before the game,” he recalled, “and [manager] Luke Sewell throws me a glove and says, ‘You’re playing left field.’ It was the first time in my life that I ever had a fielder’s glove. The first groundball hit to me should have been held to a single, but I had to chase it all the way to the wall.” Struggling at the plate through June in limited duty, Adcock showed that he could hit big-league pitching in a six-game stretch (10-for-24) in early July, then replaced the weak-hitting Peanuts Lowrey in left field after the All-Star Game. From July 5 through the end of the season Adcock hit a team-high .315 (102-for-324) and earned a berth on The Sporting News Rookie All-Star team.

 

By his third season, Adcock was vocal in his opposition to playing left field because of his home park’s distinctive embankment, which bothered his knees. “Every player who came into Crosley Field,” said the New York Giants Bobby Thomson, “paid attention to … the unique outfield terrace that ran in front of the left and center field walls.” Increasingly moody, Adcock got off to a hot start (batting .333 and slugging .667) when he aggravated his knee injury on May 22 in Brooklyn, missing three weeks. Hobbled in his return, his average steadily declined to .278 by season’s end with little power. He clashed with Rogers Hornsby (the club’s third manager during the season), who desired a more athletic and speedy left fielder. Adcock wanted to play first base, but with just 31 home runs in his first three seasons, he failed to show the consistent power to dislodge Ted Kluszewski, a consistent .300 hitter who had hit 54 home runs during the same period. On February 16 Adcock was traded to the Braves, at the time officially located in Boston, in a complicated four-team, five-player plus cash deal.

 

Adcock’s first home run for the Braves was a prodigious 475-foot blast against the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds on April 29. He launched a pitch from Jim Hearn that landed ten rows up on the left side of the center-field bleachers; he was the first player to do so since the ballpark was renovated in 1923. Another titanic shot, against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 18, rocketed almost as far, clearing the 457-foot sign in cavernous Forbes Field just to the left of straightaway center. Just as important as Adcock’s 18 home runs and 80 runs batted in for the season were his durability (he played in all of the team’s 157 games) and his fielding. “He has a good pair of hands and shifts well,” said Grimm, a former first baseman with the Cubs. The surprising Milwaukee Braves finished in second place and led the National League in attendance.

 

He retired with a .277 career average with 336 home runs and 1,122 runs batted in during his seventeen-year big league career.

 

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Al Kaline

 

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Al Kaline was the Detroit Tigers for more than two decades. Through last place finishes and World Series triumphs, the Motor City knew it had its sweet swinging right fielder to cheer for throughout the summer.

 

Chuck Dressen, a big league skipper for 16 seasons, the last four with the Tigers (1963-66), claimed that Kaline was the “best” player he had ever managed. “In my heart, I’m convinced Kaline is the best player who ever played for me. For all-around ability – I mean hitting, fielding, running and throwing – I’ll go with Al.”

 

The 18-year-old Kaline came to the Tigers in 1953 directly from high school, having never spent a day in the minors, and by the next season established himself as one of the game’s bright new talents. By 1955, at age 20, he became the youngest player to win a batting title when he hit .340. That same year the youngster became only the fourth American League player to hit two home runs in a single inning.

 

Offensive consistency became Kaline’s hallmark over the years, hitting at least 20 home runs and batting .300 or better nine times each. A superb defensive outfielder with a strong throwing arm, he also collected 10 Gold Glove awards. In the 1968 World Series, Kaline’s only appearance in the Fall Classic, he batted .379, hit two home runs and drove in eight to help Detroit knock off the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.

 

“You almost have to watch him play every day to appreciate what he does,” said veteran pitcher and former Tigers teammate Johnny Podres. “You hear about him, sure, but you really can’t understand until you see him. He just never makes a mistake.”

 

By the time Kaline’s 22-year big league career ended in 1974, the lifelong Tiger and 18-time All-Star had collected 3,007 hits, 399 home runs and a .297 career batting average.

 

“People ask me, was it my goal to play in the majors for 20 years? Was it my goal to get 3,000 hits someday? Lord knows, I didn’t have any goals,” Kaline once said. “I tell them, ‘My only desire was to be a baseball player.’”

 

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1 hour ago, Yankee4Life said:

Chuck Dressen, a big league skipper for 16 seasons, the last four with the Tigers (1963-66), claimed that Kaline was the “best” player he had ever managed. “In my heart, I’m convinced Kaline is the best player who ever played for me. For all-around ability – I mean hitting, fielding, running and throwing – I’ll go with Al.”

 

The 18-year-old Kaline came to the Tigers in 1953 directly from high school, having never spent a day in the minors, and by the next season established himself as one of the game’s bright new talents. By 1955, at age 20, he became the youngest player to win a batting title when he hit .340. That same year the youngster became only the fourth American League player to hit two home runs in a single inning.

 

Offensive consistency became Kaline’s hallmark over the years, hitting at least 20 home runs and batting .300 or better nine times each. A superb defensive outfielder with a strong throwing arm, he also collected 10 Gold Glove awards. In the 1968 World Series, Kaline’s only appearance in the Fall Classic, he batted .379, hit two home runs and drove in eight to help Detroit knock off the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.

 

“You almost have to watch him play every day to appreciate what he does,” said veteran pitcher and former Tigers teammate Johnny Podres. “You hear about him, sure, but you really can’t understand until you see him. He just never makes a mistake.”

 

By the time Kaline’s 22-year big league career ended in 1974, the lifelong Tiger and 18-time All-Star had collected 3,007 hits, 399 home runs and a .297 career batting average.

 

“People ask me, was it my goal to play in the majors for 20 years? Was it my goal to get 3,000 hits someday? Lord knows, I didn’t have any goals,” Kaline once said. “I tell them, ‘My only desire was to be a baseball player.’”

 

 

 

A little bit of history I've kept in the backpocket:

 

That was one of those pre-draft rules - if you signed for more than a certain amount of money the team had to keep you on the big league roster for two years. The Tigers wanted him badly enough to give him that with the intention of having him pinch-hit and get into non-essential games/situations for a couple years before sending him to the minors for development. Guy in front of him broke his wrist, and Kaline showed he deserved to be in the bigs his entire career. Also, he was a "bonus baby". The signing bonus was so high that they made the major league team keep the player on the big league roster for two years before even allowing them to play in the minors. It was a pre-draft attempt to keep teams from hoarding lots of top talent.
 

Kaline was one of the few bonus babies who thrived under the rule. Full time player at age 19, and MVP runner up at age 20. Other bonus babies arguably had their development stunted by the rule. Harmon Killebrew (Twins legend) had to wait two years to get the three years in the minors that he needed. So he didn't become a regular until five years after he was drafted.  Sandy Koufax was another case: He debuted way back in '55 but he was worked into the rotation very slowly and wasn't very good before 1960.

A true talent among his contemporaries, he played at the same time as Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Frank Robinson, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron, etc. Top 5 greatest Right Fielders to ever wear a baseball uniform in my opinion, and a rare player that was involved with the Tigers organization in some capacity from the age of 18 until his passing.

 

Let's go over the resume again:

  • Entire Career with One Team? Check
  • Hall of Famer? Check
  • World Series Champ? Check
  • 3000 hits? Check
  • 10x Gold Glove? Check
  • 18x All-Star? Check
  • Worked Color Commentary from retirement until 2002? Check
  • (And for those of us who value SABR stats) Top 50 All Time bWAR (92.8)? Of course.

 

Al lived a baseball dream. 

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Howard Ehmke

 

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Howard Ehmke compiled a career win–loss record of 166-166 with a 3.75 earned run average (ERA). His greatest success was with the Red Sox, including a no-hitter and his only 20-win season in 1923. Ehmke still holds the American League record for fewest hits allowed (one) in two consecutive starts. Ehmke also ranks sixteenth all-time in hitting batters. Ehmke hit 137 batters in his career and led the American League in the category seven times, including a career-high 23 in 1922. He is best known for being the surprise starter who won Game 1 of the 1929 World Series for the Athletics at the age of 35.

 

Howard Ehmke is best remembered as the 35-year-old right-hander of the Philadelphia Athletics who unexpectedly started Game One of the 1929 World Series against the slugging Chicago Cubs and struck out a then record 13 en route to a surprising triumph in one of Connie Mack’s most famous tactical decisions. But it would be an injustice to reduce Ehmke to just that victory, the last in his career. Over an eight-year stretch, from 1919 to 1926, he was one of the American League’s most durable hurlers, averaging 16 wins, 21 complete games, and 266 innings per season for weak Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox teams. While winning 20 games for last-place Boston in 1923, Ehmke tossed a no-hitter and came within an official scorer’s controversial call on what appeared to be a muffed ball of his second straight no-hitter four days later. After retiring from baseball with 166 wins and 166 losses, in 1930, Ehmke founded a company that produced the first tarpaulins that could be spread over baseball infields.

 

Ehmke was known for his overhand, side-arm, and submarine-style deliveries and was considered a hard-throwing strikeout artist in the first half of his career. He set a New York State League record by whiffing 195 in 1916 and ranked in the top four in strikeouts in the AL from 1922 to 1925. His pitching arsenal included a fastball, curveball, and several variations of slowballs. In his later years, as his fastball diminished, he relied almost exclusively on slowballs and curves. He was also considered among the inventors of the “hesitation ball,” which he initially threw overhand and later side-arm. “He starts to wind up,” wrote Harry P. Edwards, and “pauses for an exceedingly brief fraction of a second, thus throwing the batter off stride. Of course it only can be used when the bases are clear. Otherwise, it would be a balk.” Ehmke threw both curves and slowballs as a hesitation pitch, which the Philadelphia press dubbed the “shade ball” because the batter lost the white ball against the backdrop of fans with white shirts in the center-field stands.

 

The year 1927 started out bad for Ehmke and got worse. In January he was among a group of players who testified in Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis’s investigation into charges that Chicago White Sox players had paid Detroit Tigers pitchers to “slough” off in an early September 1917 series during the former’s pennant drive. Ehmke denied all charges and wasn’t implicated in any wrongdoing. During spring training he was slowed by tonsillitis and then hampered by chronic arm pain. When Ehmke failed to register an out and surrendered four runs against the lowly Red Sox on July 4, Mack shook up the team by suspending the pitcher for two weeks for not being physically ready to pitch. “I felt discouraged and disgusted,” Ehmke once admitted about his arm woes, which remained with him for the rest of his career. He performed much better when he returned in August (6-2, 3.21 ERA) to finish with a 12-10 record and 4.22 ERA in 189 innings for the AL runner-up.

 

In the wake of Ehmke’s five-game losing streak and a knee injury that prematurely ended his 1928 season, many wondered if the 34-year-old who logged just 139 innings would return to the A’s in 1929. But Mack had a soft spot for the teetotaling hurler. While the A’s cruised to the pennant with a 104-46 record, Ehmke was relegated to a spot starter, logging just 54 innings.

 

Mack’s decision to start seven-game-winner Ehmke instead of southpaws Lefty Grove (20-6) and Rube Walberg (18-11) or righty George Earnshaw (24-8) in Game One of the World Series against the Chicago Cubs shocked the baseball world, but it was a calculated move by the Tall Tactician. According to Ehmke, the plan was hatched in early September when the two discussed the right-handed-heavy and free-swinging Chicago lineup. Prior to making his final start of the season, a victory over the White Sox on September 13, Ehmke had scouted the Cubs, who were playing the Phillies several blocks away from Shibe Park in the Baker Bowl.

 

On October 8, in front of more than 50,000 spectators, Ehmke hurled a complete-game eight-hitter to defeat the Cubs, 3-1 in one of the most storied games in the history of the fall classic. He set a Series record with 13 strikeouts, including Hall of Famers Rogers Hornsby, Hack Wilson, and Kiki Cuyler twice each, and walked just one. In the dramatic conclusion of the game, Ehmke faced Chick Tolson in the bottom of the ninth with runners on first and third. The Cubs had scored an unearned run that frame and trailed, 3-1. With the count 3 and 1, Ehmke had a conference with catcher Mickey Cochrane, whom he instructed to yell “hit it” as the ball approached the plate. “Well, Mike yelled and Tolson swung,” recounted Ehmke. “[T]hat yell kind of disturbed his timing. He swung too fast.” Ehmke had a chance to close out the Series in Game Five in Philadelphia, but last only 3 innings, surrendering six hits and two runs. He was relieved by Walberg, who shut down the Cubs on two hits and picked up the Series-clinching victory when Bing Miller hit a walk-off double.

 

Ehmke returned to the A’s in 1930, but made only three ineffective appearances before announcing his retirement in May.

 

Ehmke was well positioned to transition into his post-playing career. In the late 1920s Ehmke began representing a Detroit-based firm that manufactured tarpaulins that covered football fields. In 1929 he opened his own business, Ehmke Manufacturing, in the City of Brotherly Love, and is credited with developing the first canvas tarpaulin to cover baseball infields. He maintained a close relationship with the A’s, who were the first team to use the tarpaulin, in Shibe Park, and also appeared occasionally in exhibition or charity events.

 

NOTE: Ehmke's company that he founded all those years ago is still located in Philadelphia this very day.

 

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George Sisler

 

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Arguably the first great first baseman of the twentieth century, George Sisler was the greatest player in St. Louis Browns history. An excellent baserunner and superb fielder who was once tried out at second and third base even though he threw left-handed, Sisler's primary asset was his left-handed swing, which he used to notch a career .340 batting average. From 1916 to 1925, Sisler batted over .300 nine consecutive times, including two seasons in which he batted better than .400, making him one of only two players in American League history (the other was Ty Cobb) to post multiple .400 batting marks. Though Sisler's greatest feats occurred in the years immediately following the end of the Deadball Era, by 1919 he had already established himself as one of the game's top young stars, placing in the top three in batting average every year from 1917 to 1919, and leading the league with 45 stolen bases in 1918.

 

As war loomed on the national horizon in 1917 Sisler became a star. His grace around first base drew him accolades as one of the league's top defensive players. He was also an offensive star, finishing second in the league in hits, fourth in doubles and fifth in stolen bases in 1917, and third in hits in 1918 with a league-leading 45 steals. The national press took to calling him "the next Cobb."

 

From 1919 to 1922, Sisler largely fulfilled that promise, as he batted .407 to win his first batting title in 1920, collecting 257 hits, a major league record that would last 84 years. He captured his second batting crown in 1922 with a .420 mark, which still stands as the third-best season average in modern baseball history. After the 1922 season, Sisler was given the inaugural American League Trophy as the league's MVP, voted on by a league-appointed panel of sportswriters.

 

Sisler finished second in the league in stolen bases in 1919 and 1920, and led the league in 1921 and 1922. Though Sisler often ranked among the league leaders in doubles, triples, and home runs, he was primarily a place hitter, adept at finding the gaps in opposing defenses. Like Cobb, Sisler stood erect at the plate, and relied on his superior hand-eye reflexes to react to a pitch's location and lash out base hits. "Except when I cut loose at the ball, I always try to place my hits," he once explained. "At the plate you must stand in such a way that you can hit to either right or left field with equal ease." Unlike Cobb, who shifted his feet while hitting, Sisler was an advocate of the flat-footed swing.

 

At the peak of his powers following his historic 1922 performance, Sisler missed the entire 1923 season with a severe sinus infection that impaired his optic nerve, plaguing him with chronic headaches and double vision. Though he was able to return to the field in 1924, when he also agreed to serve as manager of the Browns, Sisler was never again the same player. He batted .305 in 1924--below the league average--improved to .345 the following year, but then batted just .290 in 1926 with a .398 slugging percentage. Under his management, the Browns finished fourth in 1924 and third a year later. After falling to seventh place in 1926, Sisler was removed as manager, and later admitted that he "wasn't ready" for the post. In 1927, his last season with the Browns, he hit .327 and knocked out 201 hits. He was shipped to Washington before the 1928 season, but was traded to the Boston Braves early in the campaign. He finished his major league career in strong fashion, hitting .326 in 1929 and .309 in '30.

 

After spending the 1931 campaign with Rochester of the International League and 1932 with Shreveport-Tyler of the Texas League, Sisler retired from baseball. He launched several private ventures, including a sporting goods company, and founded the American Softball Association. Sisler engineered the first lighted softball park, and that sport boomed throughout the 1930s. In 1939, Sisler was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the writers' panel, and was among the first four classes of inductees enshrined that summer.

 

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Roy White

 

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Roy White was a quiet, graceful leader on the New York Yankees during a transitional period in the club's history. His strength of character and remarkable versatility enabled him to survive, and even excel, in the shark tank that is so often New York Yankee baseball. At a time when the great careers of Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Roger Maris and Elston Howard were winding down, White broke into the majors and steadily evolved from speedy utility player to the team's cleanup hitter and one of its top sluggers. During White's early years the team was suffering its first down period in quite some time, though he stuck around long enough to help with the club's renaissance.


White saw his first major league action on September 7, 1965, when he pinch hit for Al Downing in the seventh inning of the first game of a doubleheader. White drove a single up the middle, and a few batters later, scored his first major league run on a Tom Tresh single. In the second game, White started at second base, and went 2-for-5 with a double and another run scored. The 21-year-old remained with the club for the waning days of the 1965 season, and hit .333 in 14 games.

 

By 1970, White had become a fixture in the middle of the Yankees batting order. All but one of his at-bats that season came from the third or fourth spot in the batting order. He filled the role of slugger nicely, batting .296 with 30 doubles, 6 triples, 22 home runs and 94 RBI. He also stole 24 bases and drew 95 walks, which helped him to a .387 on-base percentage. White finished third in runs scored in the American League, with 109. In July, he was named to his second straight All-Star game, and when the season ended, baseball writers placed him 15th in MVP voting.

 

Perhaps the best assessment of White's balance and versatility came from his former teammate Mickey Mantle, who after the 1970 season wrote an article for Sport magazine that ranked White as one of the most underrated players in baseball. Mantle was particularly impressed with White's ability to do the important things that might not always show up in the box score, but which often contribute to winning the game. "People ask me: what happened to all the Yankee stars? I tell them that Roy White is as good a player as any of the old players we used to have." In support of his statement, Mantle noted that White "hit for power and average, walked a lot, and he also could steal bases, sacrifice, hit behind the runner, and play the field well."

 

In a fifteen-year major league career, White played in 1,881 games, accumulating 1,803 hits in 6,650 at bats for a .271 career batting average along with 160 home runs, 758 runs batted in and a .360 on-base percentage. He ended his career with a .986 fielding percentage. An excellent defensive player, White led American League left fielders in fielding percentage for four consecutive years between 1968 and 1971.

 

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Miller Huggins

 

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Miller Huggins was the Hall of Fame manager who led the New York Yankees to their first six American League pennants and three world championships, in the 1920s. He forged unique relationships with both Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert and their star outfielder, Babe Ruth. One newspaperman wrote, “Yankee owner Jacob Ruppert saw in Huggins a man worthy of confidence, a man hung on the cross of propaganda, which was as cruel as it was false, and as unfounded as it was detrimental to the cause of the Yankees.”

 

Huggins was also an accomplished second baseman in the Deadball Era, when he excelled despite being one of the smallest men to ever play the National Pastime. Underestimated as both a player and a manager, Huggins overcame great obstacles to excel. Baseball was his life, but ultimately the stress he experienced in it may have contributed to his premature death at age 51.

 

Huggins played for three seasons (1901-1903) with St. Paul, which became a charter member of the American Association in 1902. The club’s player-manager, Mike Kelley, became one of Huggins’s closest friends. During that period, Huggins found time to study law at the University of Cincinnati, gaining his degree in 1902.

 

“He [Huggins] was grievously handicapped by his lack of size,” wrote John Sheridan in the Sporting News. While databases list Huggins at 5’ 6” and 140 pounds, he was actually much smaller, around 5’ 1”-5’2” and 125 pounds. When John McGraw had a chance to acquire Huggins for his Baltimore Orioles in 1901, he declined to do so. “That shrimp?” he said to himself. “He’s too little to be of any use as a big leaguer.”

 

Perhaps to compensate for his size, Huggins had a fierce and relentless determination to succeed and use his head to win. “Because he was so small and slight, he must overcome by clear thinking,” wrote Frank Graham, “obstacles that other players could surmount by force.”

 

Huggins joined his hometown Cincinnati Reds in 1904 and began a 13-year career as a Major Leaguer, 11 as a regular. He led the National League in walks four times and stole 27 or more bases eight seasons. His career on-base percentage (a sabermetric number not used in his days) was a sparkling .382, with a season-best mark of .432 in 1913, at age 35.

 

Huggins was a quiet man with simple tastes and did not socialize much. He liked to read and play billiards and pinochle. He had business interests, including ownership of a cigar store and roller-skating rink in his hometown. Even years later, he would visit rinks on his off-days.

 

He impressed people with his sharp mind and baseball “smarts.” When he took the helm of the Cardinals, Harold Lanigan of the Sporting News called him “a deep little cuss, a thorough student of the national game.” And just a couple of years later, New York Giants manager John McGraw said, “There is no smarter man in baseball today than Miller Huggins.”

 

Damon Runyon described Huggins in his first season the Yankees’ manager, as “a serious little man. If there is any streak of humor in him, it does not make itself manifest.” While Runyon wrote of Huggins’s cerebral and detached nature, he also noted the skipper’s quiet presence. “Mr. Huggins has a way about him in the baseball arbor which inspires the feeling that he knows his business.”

 

It was Huggins who urged Ruppert to acquire Babe Ruth after the 1919 season. “Huggins had vision…Far-seeing judgment. He planned on a big scale,” said Ruppert. “I doubt if anybody except Huggins had the foreknowledge of just how predominant Ruth could become in the baseball world.”

 

Huggins also understood what a great drawing card the Babe would be. “He pulls them in. He makes the turnstiles click,” said Huggins in Ruth’s first season in New York. The public “likes the fellow who carries the wallop. The fellow who can pound the ball is always the fellow that will win the hearts of the bleachers…Ruth appeals to everybody.”

 

One of Huggins’s greatest strengths was his ability to size up a player, his potential and limitations. In December, 1920, the Yankees made one of their many trades with the Red Sox during the 1918 to 1923 time period. While the trades were later called “the Rape of the Red Sox,” they were considered quite fair and balanced when they were made. The key figures in this deal were thought to be the Yankees’ infielder Del Pratt and Boston catcher and future Hall of Famer Wally Schang.

 

But Huggins was most interested in Boston pitcher Waite Hoyt, even though he had won only four games and had been hampered by injuries and his temperament. “Young Hoyt is a pitcher of infinite promise,” he declared. “I expect great things of him.” The future Hall of Famer would win 157 games for the Yankees.

 

Herb Pennock was another example of Huggins’s personnel skills. When he acquired the lefty after a 10-17 1922 season with the Red Sox, the few people who noticed the trade panned it. In New York papers, it was called “the worst trade the Yankees ever made,” in which they had been “gypped,” with Huggins a “sap” for making such a deal.  Pennock would also go on to a Hall of Fame career and win 162 games as a Yankee.

 

And as early as 1927, Huggins wanted to acquire yet another Red Sox pitcher who seemed to be showing little, Red Ruffing. The Yankees would not acquire him until 1930, after he had posted a 39-96 record in Boston. He too would go on to a Hall of Fame career, with 231 wins for New York.

 

Huggins, like his owner, wanted to win as much as possible. “It is our desire to have a pennant winner each year indefinitely. New York fans want championship ball, and the Yankees can be counted on to provide it. We are prepared to outbid other clubs for young players of quality.” Ruppert could not have said it better.

 

The irony is that while losing almost made Huggins physically ill, his striving to win took a tremendous toll on his weak body. The Yankees fell behind the Athletics early in the 1929 season and were unable to make a pennant race with the emerging Philadelphia dynasty.

 

Huggins showed up at Yankee Stadium with a red blotch under his left eye, which unnerved coaches and players. “Go see a doctor because I have a red spot on my face? Me? Who took the spikes of Frank Chance and Fred Clarke?” he retorted.

 

On September 15, the Yankees faced the Cleveland Indians at home, and suffered two blows: Huggins with the infected and painful carbuncle on his cheek, and Waite Hoyt pulled from the game after Joe Hauser smacked a three-run homer. Huggins, shining a heat light on his carbuncle, asked Hoyt how old he was. Hoyt said he’d just turned 30.

 

“Tomorrow, go down and get your paycheck. You’re through for the season. You just weren’t in shape. Get in good shape this winter, come down next spring and have the year I know you can have,” Huggins said.

 

Everybody could see Huggins was exhausted—a young Yankee shortstop named Leo Durocher, a Huggins favorite, pleaded with his manager to take the rest of the season off—and a few days later, a run-down and worn-out Huggins left the team, and went to St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York’s Greenwich Village, with a bacterial skin infection on his cheek. It spread through his body, blood transfusions did no good, and he died just a few days after he entered the hospital. Eerily, he became the fourth Yankees’ manager who died prematurely in the 1920s.

 

On May 30, 1932, the Yankees began a tradition that has continued to this day, by unveiling a monument by the center field flagpole, honoring their manager. Ironically, the Yankees could never retire his number. Huggins died before the Yankees began issuing uniform numbers.

 

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Awesome as always. I haven't browsed the archives of this page yet, but if you haven't done Connie Mack yet, I'd love read what you have to say about him. I only know bits and pieces about him, including the fact that he wore a suit and tie when he managed.

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Connie Mack

 

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He was known as “The Tall Tactician” and was baseball’s grand old gentleman for more than a generation. Statuesque, stately, and slim, he clutched a rolled-up scorecard as he sat or stood ramrod straight in the dugout, attired in a business suit rather than a uniform, a derby or bowler in place of a baseball cap. He carried himself with quiet dignity, and commanded the respect of friend and foe. Widely addressed by players and other officials as Mr. Mack, he and the Philadelphia Athletics were so closely linked for 50 years the team was often dubbed “the Mackmen.”

 

Connie Mack’s Hall of Fame career spanned 65 major-league seasons as a player, manager, team executive, and owner. He posted 3,731 wins, a mark that exceeds any other manager’s total by more than 1,000 victories. He guided the Athletics to nine American League championships and won five World Series titles in eight appearances. He was the first manager to win three World Series titles, and the first to win consecutive titles two times. The valleys were as low as the peaks were high – he also endured a major-league record 3,948 losses, and his team finished last in its league 17 times. He built his dynasties with rising young players, won championships with the stars he developed, and then sold off those stars when he could no longer afford them.

 

A journeyman catcher who offered more in the way of innovation and creativity than ability during an 11-year major-league playing career, Mack served as player-manager for the National League’s Pittsburgh (the city was actually known as “Pittsburg” from 1890 to 1911) Pirates for three seasons during the rollicking 1890’s, and then for four seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers of the Western League, which became the American League in 1900. In 1901, when the circuit declared it was a major league and began to invade Eastern cities, A.L. President Ban Johnson asked Mack to establish the Philadelphia Athletics. Mack managed the team through 1950, and was a team owner for the franchise’s entire 54-year existence.

 

In the early years of the Athletics, Mack skippered some of the Deadball Era’s best teams, winning six A.L. pennants and three World Series in the league’s first 14 years, primarily with players he discovered on school grounds and sandlots and developed into stars. Faced with financial difficulties because of the onset of World War I and competition for players from the fledgling Federal League, he dismantled his dynasty and endured a decade of miserable finishes. As he advanced into his sixties, many sportswriters and fans suggested the game had passed him by. But he adjusted to the times, opened his checkbook to purchase rising stars from minor-league teams, and built a second dynasty by the end of the Roaring Twenties.

 

That team won three straight A.L. championships (1929-31) and a pair of World Series titles, but suffered declining attendance as the Great Depression devastated Pennsylvania’s economy. A pragmatic businessman with no other streams of income other than his ball club, Mack felt forced to sell off his stars to more solvent teams. Once again, the Athletics tumbled to the bottom of the A.L. standings, where they would hover for most of the rest of their stay in Philadelphia.

 

He believed that he would eventually build another winner, and took pride in his ability to discover and develop talented young players. “No other manager in the history of the game ever handled more young players and brought more of them to stardom and to fortune,” the New York Times observed in Mack’s obituary. “But it is probable that he will be best remembered for his sensational scrapping of championship machines…

 

Mack moved on to Milwaukee, and became manager and 25 percent owner of the city’s Western League franchise. Majority owner Henry Killilea told the Tall Tactician, “You’re in charge. Handle the club as if it belonged to you. Engage the players you think will strengthen the team without consulting any directors of the club.”

 

Mack skippered the Brewers for four seasons. A player-manager during the first three, he took his last turn in the field on September 4, 1899. “Once he gave up playing,” baseball historian Charles C. Alexander observed, “Mack had managed from the bench in street clothes. His high starched collar was basic male attire at the turn of the century, but many years later, long after it had become unfashionable, he would still be wearing one.” He would also carry a scorecard for the remainder of his career, waving it to send signals to his players on the field. He relied on his experience and his understanding of the skills of both his players and opponent players to position his fielders.

 

BEGINNING OF HIS FIRST DYNASTY: Philadelphia finished 1½ games behind Ty Cobb’s Tigers in 1907 and a distant sixth in 1908. But during that season, Mack began to build his first dynasty, providing playing time for 21-year old second baseman Eddie Collins, 21-year old shortstop Jack Barry, and 22-year old third baseman Frank Baker.With the three youngsters in the starting lineup and the Athletics playing their home games at newly finished Shibe Park, Philadelphia finished second as the Tigers won their third straight pennant in 1909.

 

The Mackmen returned to the top in 1910. Jack Coombs won 31 games, Bender 23, and the 34-year-old Plank won 16 as Philadelphia steamrolled first the American League, and then the Chicago Cubs, four games to one in the Fall Classic. Coombs won three games and Bender one to give Mack and Philadelphia their first World Series Championship.

 

Coombs, Plank, and Bender combined to carry the Athletics to a second straight championship in 1911, and 20-year-old first baseman Stuffy McInnis stepped into the starting lineup, along with Collins, Barry, and Baker, to complete what would become known as “the $100,000 infield.” Once again, Mack squared off against McGraw’s black-clad Giants. This time, the Athletics prevailed as Baker hit two key home runs and earned the moniker of “Home Run” Baker; Bender won twice and Coombs and Plank each picked up a victory in the 4-1 Series.

 

The Athletics slipped to third in 1912, but bounced back to finish 6 ½ games ahead of Walter Johnson’s Washington Senators in 1913. Once again the World Series matched Mr. Mack and Muggsy, and for the second time, the Athletics won, this time by a four-games-to-one margin as the 37-year old Plank out-dueled Mathewson in the finale and Bender won two more World Series games.

 

With three World Series wins in four years, two over McGraw, Mack had earned his reputation as “The Tall Tactician.” Philadelphia cruised to its fourth A.L. title in five years in 1914 behind the $100,000 infield and the pitching of Bender, Plank, 21-year old Bullet Joe Bush, 23-year old Bob Shawkey, and 20-year old Herb Pennock. The Athletics, like their manager, were efficient. But as tranquil as the season was in Philadelphia, there were storm clouds on the horizon. World War I broke out in Europe, an event that shortened the 1918 season and reduced box office revenues. The Federal League began operations in eight cities, and its well-financed owners dangled cash in front of major leaguers. And like a cyclone, the Boston Braves, mired in last place on July 18, arose in the summer heat, stormed past the rest of the National League, and demolished the Athletics in a stunning World Series sweep.

 

Mack later claimed his team lost because it had been splintered by the specter of Federal League money. Unwilling and unable to match the lucrative F.L. salaries, Mack watched the Federal League lure away Plank and Bender, released Coombs, who had missed two seasons because of illness and injury, and sold Eddie Collins to the White Sox because owner Charles Comiskey afford a high salary to keep Collins out of Federal League hands.

 

In the early 1920s, as Mack neared and passed his 60th birthday, baseball writers and fans openly suggested that the old timer should surrender his spot on the bench to a younger man. But Mack was busy building his next dynasty. In 1929 the Athletics embarked on one of the greatest three-year runs in baseball history. Mack’s men won 313 games in that span, three A.L. pennants, and a pair of World Series titles.

 

THE SECOND DYNASTY: The 1929 Athletics posted 104 victories, finished 18 games ahead of the Yankees, and crushed the Chicago Cubs four games to one in the World Series. Surprise Game One starter Howard Ehmke delivered a complete-game 3-1 victory, and the Athletics, trailing 8-0 in Game Four, rallied for ten runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to win, 10-8. Mack later called Ehmke’s performance “my greatest thrill.” 14 Cochrane, Foxx, Simmons, Dykes, Mule Haas, and Bing Miller all batted .300 or better; George Earnshaw, who Mack had purchased a year earlier from the minors, posted 24 wins, Grove 20, Wahlberg 18, and Rommel 12.

 

Philadelphia won 102 games in 1930, finished eight games ahead of the runner-up Washington Senators and 16 ahead of the Yankees, and downed the St. Louis Cardinals four games to two in the Fall Classic behind a pair of wins each from Grove and Earnshaw, two homers each from Cochrane and Simmons, and a game-winner from Foxx. Grove won 28 games during the regular season and Earnshaw 22; Foxx homered 37 times and drove in 156 runs; Simmons hit 36 homers and drove in 165.

 

In 1931 they were even better during the regular season. The Athletics posted 107 wins to finish 13 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees. Grove posted a 31-4 record, Earnshaw and Rube Walberg each won more than 20, Foxx hit 30 home runs, and Simmons hit 22. But Johnny “Pepper” Martin, the “Wild Horse of the Osage,” collected 12 hits, ran wild, and willed the Cardinals to victory in a seven-game Fall Classic rematch, the finale a 4-2 win at Sportsman’s Park.

 

It was the last time that Mack managed a World Series game as the second Athletics dynasty ended much like the first. This time it was the Great Depression that devastated the city of Philadelphia’s economy. Attendance plummeted while the Athletics had the highest payroll in the league. Mack sold off his stars to owners with deeper pockets, and his team returned to the nether regions of the American League.

 

Between 1935 and 1946, the Athletics finished last nine times in 12 years. Mack, who turned 75 after the 1937 season, missed the final 34 games of that campaign and 91 more games in 1939 because of illness.

 

Though his legacy and career winning percentage had been eroded by the string of last place finishes, he was revered by those in the game, and the public. Shibe Park was renamed “Connie Mack Stadium” in 1953 and continued to house both the Athletics and the Phillies, who were still winning the battle of the box office between the two. The other A.L. owners, unhappy about their share of the low gates at Philadelphia – just 362,111 in 1953 and a paltry 304,666 in 1954 – urged the Macks to sell or move the team.

 

The Macks resisted, but Roy and Earle were pressured by the New York owners to sell the team to Arnold Johnson, a Chicago vending machine magnate who owned the Yankees farm team in Kansas City. When Earle and Roy finally agreed to sell, the other AL owners unanimously voted to accept the deal. Upon hearing the news that the Athletics would move away from Philadelphia, the 91-year old Connie Mack collapsed.

 

Connie Mack died in Philadelphia on February 8, 1956, at the age of 93 “of old age and complications from hip surgery.”  Hundreds of fans, friends, former players, and baseball executives turned out for the funeral at his St. Bridget’s, his parish church. He was buried at Holy Sepulchre Catholic Cemetery in Philadelphia.

 

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  • 1 month later...

Frank Robinson

 

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Robinson broke into the National League as a 20-year-old in 1956 with the Cincinnati Reds and tied a rookie record with 38 home runs en route to NL Rookie of the Year honors. Over the next two decades, Robinson became one of the most feared hitters in the game.

 

In 1961, Robinson hit .323 with 37 home runs and 124 home runs in leading the Reds to their first National League pennant in 21 years. He was named the NL Most Valuable Player following the season, and in 1962 he was even better – hitting .342 with 39 home runs, 136 RBI and an MLB-leading 134 runs scored.

 

Following the 1965 season, the Reds traded Robinson to the Orioles. Determined to prove himself all over again in the American League, Robinson won the 1966 Triple Crown with a .316 batting average, 49 home runs and 122 RBI – leading the Orioles to their first World Series title and becoming the first player to win Most Valuable Player awards in both leagues.

 

Robinson was the driving force of a Baltimore team that won three AL pennants and the 1970 World Series title from 1969-71, averaging 106 wins per season over those three years.

 

A 14-time All-Star, Robinson took home World Series MVP honors in 1966 and the All-Star Game MVP Award in 1971.

 

In 1975, as his playing days wound down with the Cleveland Indians, he was named the club’s player-manager – becoming the first African-American to manage a major league club. He also managed the Giants, Orioles, Expos and Nationals, winning the American League Manager of the Year Award in 1989.

 

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Mark Koenig

 

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      Mark Koenig made his major league debut for the Yankees on September 8, 1925, at the age of 21, entering the game as a defensive substitute for shortstop Pee-Wee Wanninger in a 5–4 win against the Boston Red Sox. During his rookie season the following year, he posted a batting average of .271 and struck out just 37 times in 617 at bats, a statistic which his manager Miller Huggins looked highly upon. Defensively, he committed the most errors among all fielders in the American League and most errors by a shortstop with 52. Nonetheless, he had the AL's third highest range factor at shortstop of 4.99 and made a league-leading 470 putouts. In the postseason, the Yankees advanced to the 1926 World Series, where they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. In the crucial Game 7, Koenig made an error when attempting to field a double play opportunity in the fourth inning. This eventually led to the Cardinals scoring in what turned out to be the winning run in a 3–2 victory.

 

      Koenig was subsequently criticized by fans for being responsible for Yankees losing the game and, ultimately, the series.
Koenig was penciled into the two-hole spot in the Yankees' 1927 Opening Day lineup, with Earle Combs batting in front of him at leadoff and Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel and Tony Lazzeri batting behind him. This lineup, which was utilized in that order throughout the majority of the season, was given the nickname "Murderers' Row". Many sports analysts, baseball writers and fans consider the 1927 team the greatest baseball team of all time. Although he was dismissive of the role he played, Koenig contributed to the team's success as he batted .285 and amassed 150 hits, 11 triples, 99 runs scored and 62 runs batted in. However, he once again led the league in errors with 47, but compensated for this by recording the highest range factor at shortstop (5.61) and third most assists at shortstop (423). He was also part of history when, after hitting a triple, he was the only Yankee player on base when Babe Ruth hit his milestone 60th home run, setting a new single-season record. The Yankees advanced to the World Series that year, where they swept the Pittsburgh Pirates. Koenig performed impressively throughout the series, batting a team-leading .500 and committed no errors in 24 total chances.

 

    In 1162 games over 12 seasons, Koenig posted a .279 batting average (1190-for-4271) with 572 runs, 195 doubles, 49 triples, 28 home runs, 446 RBI, 31 stolen bases, 222 bases on balls, .316 on-base percentage and .367 slugging percentage. He finished his career with a .933 fielding percentage playing primarily at shortstop, third and second base. In 20 World Series games, he batted .237 (18-for-76) with 9 runs, 3 doubles, 1 triple and 5 RBI.

 

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Jim Gentile

 

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The Yankees grabbed all the headlines in 1961. Roger Maris set the new single-season home run record with 61. Mickey Mantle hit 54 home runs himself and was neck and neck with Maris for much of the year. Maris and Mantle finished first and second in the American League MVP voting, respectively, and the team won 109 games, cruising to a World Series championship.

 

Yet meanwhile, over in Baltimore, Jim Gentile was making history of his own. The sophomore sensation was overshadowed by the M&M Boys, but he did things at the plate that neither Maris, Mantle, nor anybody else had done before. Gentile hit a grand slam in consecutive innings on May 9 against the Twins, the first time that ever happened. He went on to hit three more grand slams that year, setting an A.L. record and tying the major league record (since surpassed by Don Mattingly and Travis Hafner).

 

Gentile clubbed 46 home runs and drove in 141 runs. It was in his contract with the Orioles that, if he led the A.L. in RBIs, he would get a $5,000 bonus. Nearly half a century passed until it was discovered that Maris was erroneously given an extra RBI in a July 5 game against the Indians. This reduced Maris from 142 RBIs in 1961 to 141. Thus, in 2010, Gentile received his $5,000 bonus from the Orioles. He ended up being a special guest of the team at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in August of that year. What was about to transpire absolutely shocked him.

 

“I didn’t know about it,” he said. “They had invited me back to do what we call the suites. You go back there for two days and you go up into the suites and you go around and sign autographs for the people in the suites and so they invited me to do that and while I was there, they said ‘Hey, we’d like you to throw the first ball out,’ and I said ‘Okay.’ So I walk out and a girl walks me out to the mound and I said, ‘Do you have a ball?’ She said, ‘No.’ I see the ball there on the mound and I said, ‘How about this one?’ She said, ‘No, that’s the game ball.’ So, I turned to home plate and I figured the catcher has one. I turned to home plate and there was nobody at home plate. … So here comes Lee MacPhail’s son out with one of those big golf-type checks worth $5,000. That was the first I’d heard of it. I almost fainted, for Pete’s sake.”

 

Though he spent just four seasons in Baltimore, the Orioles inducted Gentile into their Hall of Fame in 1989. He played in six All-Star Games, making both teams every year between 1960 and 1962. Gentile specified the first 1961 All-Star Game as the one that stood out to him. It was held on July 11 in his hometown of San Francisco.

 

Gentile’s 1963 season was his last in Baltimore. He continued to display his power, hitting 24 home runs with 72 RBIs in 145 games, but his average fell off to .248. The team went 84-78, an improvement over 1962. Following the season, he was shipped to the Athletics with $25,000 for Norm Siebern. The Sporting News described the swap as “hitting consistency, speed and hustle [Siebern] for defense, power and color [Gentile].” Gentile was also described as “entertaining” and “fiery.”

 

In a nine-season career, Gentile batted .260 (759-for-2922) with 179 home runs, 549 RBI, 434 runs, 113 doubles, six triples, and three stolen bases in 936 games.

 

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John Henry "Pop" Lloyd

 

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Essential to any team's success during the deadball era was the presence of John Henry Lloyd, the greatest black baseball player during the first two decades of the century. The tall, rangy superstar was the greatest shortstop of his day, black or white, and with the exception of Honus Wagner in his prime, no major leaguer could compare with him. Wagner is reported to have said that he considered it a privilege to be compared to Lloyd.

 

He was a complete ballplayer who could hit, run, field, throw, and hit with power, especially in the clutch. A superior hitter and a dangerous base runner, his knowledge and application of inside baseball as defined in the era allowed him to generate runs with a variety of skills. In the field he was a superlative fielder who studied batters and positioned himself wisely, got a good jump on the ball, and possessed exceptional range and sure hands with which he dug balls out of the dirt like a shovel. Lloyd's play afield earned him the nickname in Cuba of "El Cuchara," Spanish for "The Tablespoon."

 

He was discovered in 1905 on the sandlots of Jacksonville, Florida, by Rube Foster, Harry Buckner, and Sol White, who were traveling south with the Cuban X-Giants.

 

A year later, when the team's owner, Ed LeMarc, decided to let several of his best players go and replace them with talented youngsters, he sent for Lloyd, who was playing second base with the Macon Acmes, a semi-pro team in Georgia. Lloyd, who had joined the impoverished team as a catcher and had to resort to using a wire basket for a catcher's mask, was glad to get a chance with a top team. From the time he joined the Cuban X-Giants in 1906 until he became player manager of the Brooklyn Royal Giants in 1918, the presence of his all-around ability assured a team of being a big winner. The teams on which he played during this period was a roll call of the great teams of the era.

 

Lloyd was a smart player who easily fit into the Foster-style of play. In the deadball era, when pitching dominated and teams played for a single run, Lloyd excelled at getting the run. He was an exceptional bunter and base stealer and, with good bat control and an excellent eye at the plate, he was expert at playing hit-and-run. Indicative of Lloyd's batting ability is that with all the talent on Foster's team, he batted in the fourth spot in the lineup. With Lloyd starring, the American Giants reigned as western champions three times during his four-year tenure with the team, and defeated the eastern champions in playoffs in 1914 and 1917.

 

In 1921 Lloyd left the New York City baseball scene to become playing manager of the Negro National League Columbus Buckeyes and hit .336, but stayed only a single season when owner Connors brought him back to New York to replace Dick Redding as manager of the New York Bacharachs. Before the season started the Bacharachs decided to return to Atlantic City as their home base for the season, and although he hit .387, his stay there was only a season as he left when Hilldale beckoned. Later in life Lloyd was to say, "Wherever the money was, that's where I was."

 

In his managerial capacity Lloyd was a master at instilling confidence in younger players. In these latter years he became known affectionately as "Pop" and was considered the elder statesman of black baseball even after he retired as an active player. Newspapers of 1910 referred to Lloyd's good nature by saying that he was "one comical man off the diamond," and indicated that when he quit baseball he could make good on the stage as a comedian. However, after closing out his professional baseball career, he continued as manager and first baseman of sandlot teams, the Johnson Stars and the Farley Stars, until age sixty. Residing in Atlantic City, he worked as a custodian for the post office and school system. In addition to his work he served as the city's Little League commissioner, and in recognition of his involvement with youngsters, in 1949 the John Henry Lloyd Park for baseball was dedicated in his honor.

 

The left-handed place hitter who batted out of a slightly closed stance had an easy, powerful swing that produced a lifetime .368 average over a phenomenal twenty seven year career in black baseball. Twelve winter seasons in Cuba, interspersed between the years 1908 and 1930, show a .321 lifetime average. During his prime, island records of the 1912 and 1913 seasons show a composite .361 batting average, and in one reknowned series in 1910, against Ty Cobb's Detroit Tigers, he hit .500 to lead all hitters. John McGraw assessed the country's sociological climate while appraising his ability: "If we could bleach this Lloyd boy, we would show the National League a new phenomenon." Some historians say that he was born too soon. But in 1949 at the dedication of the Atlantic City ballpark in his honor, Lloyd expressed his thoughts. "I do not consider that I was born at the wrong time. I felt it was the right time, for I had a chance to prove the ability of our race in this sport... and we have given the Negro a greater opportunity now to be accepted into the major leagues with other Americans."

 

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